Yesterday as I stared upon a mountain of unwatched tapes and discs, what did my hand reach for, you ask? You guessed it, Day of the Dead '08, to watch a second time. I'm still unsure why I do this, maybe I'm just not as big of a horror fan as I think. I should want to bury this flick's negative in a steaming pile of horseshit as any other self-respecting genre fan would. Why in the hell would I revisit this? Get ready to question the already shaky credibility of this horror blogist.
I don't think Steve Miner's much maligned remake is all that bad. At least not nearly as abhorrent as these IMDB commenters make it. Sure, it's almost immediately forgettable and packed with been-there-done-that, but I can't force myself to entirely condemn the effort. The most glaring issue is the title and ties to Romero's reluctant '85 classic. The film barely has any connection to the original and the ones there are more cheeky nods or ideas that may have been of Romero origin, but have synthesized through the years so much they're nothing new to zombiedom. I'd bet if the film initially shed (or totally avoided) the name and Romero credit; the horror community by-in-large wouldn't be as vitriol towards the end product.
That doesn't mean this outing of gutmunching is devoid of problems. Mena Suvari comes off more a girl playing dress-up with army fatigues than a badass soldier lead. One wants to kick Nick Cannon in the face seconds into his first appearance on-screen for turning in a smug stereotypical performance that does much disservice to the prior nuanced work of Duane Jones, Ken Foree, Terry Alexander, and Tony Todd. Some have complained about Ving Rhames showing up for the craft services table as a different character than in Snyder's Dawn, but chalk that up to some people's ability to bitch about anything. All is redeemed when he rises decayed and barks like a Yorkshire Terrier while attacking. Perhaps he was just reenacting the mauling that occurred at his home a few years back? Michael Welch is like Shia LaBeouf's non-existent brother, so naturally based on that alone he deserves a brutal kneecapping with a spiked bat by Brock Lesnar.
Miner and co. seemed to have assessed Dawn '04 and figured that if fast zombies worked, faster zombies must be the ticket. I don't mind fast zombies, but these damn things move so quickly that their ability is far beyond human capacity. Not to mention they can seemingly stick to walls and ceilings and do slick spin moves as they descend upon their prey. Though I'm unsure why I'm even referring to them as zombos. It's made quite clear they're infected living altered by a bacterium into raving decomposing lunatics, despite the film setting forth the standard headshot killing procedure. Maybe Miner should have shot for a Nightmare City remake? The special effects make-up crew should be commended, whatever they are, they look awesomely rotted and ghoulishly detailed when not blazing across the camera.
Besides the zombie/bloody maniac make-up, it's hard to find much else to recommend. There are the usual eternally annoying CG bullet impacts (and some awful zombie inferno shots), but some of these effects are incorporated rather seamlessly, like the decaps and slashings of Cannon's impromptu hospital sickle. Lastly, Miner keeps the pace very brisk and just as everything starts to wane the conclusion isn't far off.
It's still difficult to explain why I don't mind Day of the Dead '08. The whole thing is like a Frankenstein comprised of zombie DTV shit, ambling along with enough stupidity and momentum to not feel too offensive. Just don't use Romero's work as the litmus test while watching.